Below are summaries from the National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook, provided by the National Interagency Fire Center, for the period of January 2022 through April 2022. Additionally, the full outlook can be located here.

Year-to-Date Statistics:

Year-to-date statistics Number of Fires Acreage Burned
2022 (01/01/22 – 01/03/22) 23 285
10-year Average (2012-2021) 26 211
Percentage of 10-year Average 88% 135%


Observations in December:

Fire activity nationwide remained low overall in December with the year-to-date number of fires and acres burned remaining below the 10-year averages. Throughout the month, active prescribed burning continued in all geographic areas. Large fires mainly occurred in the Southern Area, except for significant fire activity in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas on December 15. These states experienced critical fire weather with winds gusting up to 100 mph. Nevertheless, nearly 90% of the West remains in drought with a third of the West in the highest two categories of extreme and exceptional drought.
map depicting current drought conditions across the United States

Drought Monitor Map of the United States – Current as of January 2022

Most of the eastern two-thirds of the country received below normal precipitation for December with areas of the central and southern Plains receiving no precipitation. Due to above normal temperatures and little to no precipitation, abnormally dry and drought conditions expanded across the southern Plains. Much of the West, portions of the northern Plains, and northern Great Lakes received above normal precipitation for the month. Temperatures were above normal for a majority of the U.S., except areas along the West Coast and Montana.

Weather Outlook for January – April:

Wetter and colder than normal conditions are likely for the Northwest. Additionally, near to below normal temperatures and near normal precipitation is forecast for Northern California. Subsequently, drier and warmer anomalies are likely by early spring for Northern California. Similarly, Southern California will experience below normal temperatures with near to a little above normal precipitation from January through April. Forecasters predict the Northern Rockies to experience above normal precipitation through March, with cooler than average temperatures. However, near normal temperatures and precipitation are expected across the Great Basin, with the exception of Idaho likely to experience above normal precipitation.

On average, the Southwest can expect dry and mild conditions through the outlook period. Warmer and drier than average conditions will continue for southern Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas. Contrarily, northern Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota will continue to receive cooler and moist weather through April 2022. Additionally, above average temperatures are forecast for the southern area of the Eastern region through March 2022. On the other hand, below normal temperatures are likely for the Upper Midwest and Mississippi Valley in March and April. Through April, most of the Eastern region is expected to receive near to above normal precipitation. According to climate outlooks,  the Southern Area can expect above normal temperatures and normal to below normal precipitation through the outlook period.

Fire Potential Outlook for January – April:

Low fire potential is likely for the Northwest due to cold, wet conditions. Significant fire potential will be near normal across Northern and Southern California from January through April. Also, the Northern Rockies area will likely experience normal significant fire potential through April. The outlook forecasts the Great Basin to experience near normal fire potential through April. Additionally, the outlook anticipates normal significant fire potential for the Southwest through January and February. Above normal fire potential is likely to move across the Southwest region in March, continuing through April. Normal significant wildland fire potential is expected across the Rocky Mountain region through April 2022.

Due to possible dry conditions across the southeastern Mid-Atlantic states, above normal fire potential is forecast for the area in March. In addition, the outlook suggests above normal fire potential across the southern Plains of Oklahoma and Texas this winter into spring. Otherwise, the Eastern region is expecting near normal significant wildland fire potential. Finally, a majority of the Southern area can expect above normal significant fire potential through April.

map depicting significant wildland fire potential outlook for January 2022

January 2022 – Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook

map depicting significant wildland fire potential outlook in the U.S. for February 2022

February 2022 – Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook

map of the U.S. depicting significant wildland fire potential outlook for March 2022

March 2022 – Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook

map of the U.S. depicting significant wildland fire potential outlook for April 2022

April 2022 – Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook

Source: NIFC

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